Highlighted Speakers

Many exciting talks are scheduled for this meeting. The most updated list of them and their speakers can be found on the program page. Details on a few are listed below—indicative of what you can look forward to at this meeting.

Andrew Blake to Speak on Machines that See, Powered by Probability

picture of Andrew BlakeAndrew Blake, Microsoft Research Cambridge, will deliver the AMS Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture on Wednesday January 15, 2014, 8:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center. The title of his talk will be Machines that See, Powered by Probability.

Andrew Blake is a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and the Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, England. He joined Microsoft in 1999 as a Senior Researcher to found the Computer Vision group. In 2008 he became a Deputy Managing Director at the lab, before assuming his current position in 2010. Prior to joining Microsoft Andrew trained in mathematics and electrical engineering in Cambridge England, and studied for a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence in Edinburgh. He was an academic for 18 years, latterly on the faculty at Oxford University, where he was a pioneer in the development of the theory and algorithms that can make it possible for computers to behave as seeing machines.

He has published several books including "Visual Reconstruction" with A. Zisserman (MIT press), "Active Vision" with A. Yuille (MIT Press) and "Active Contours" with M. Isard (Springer-Verlag). He has twice won the prize of the European Conference on Computer Vision, with R. Cipolla in 1992 and with M. Isard in 1996, and was awarded the IEEE David Marr Prize (jointly with K. Toyama) in 2001.

In 2006 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him its Silver Medal and in 2007 the Institution of Engineering and Technology presented him with the Mountbatten Medal (previously awarded to computer pioneers Maurice Wilkes and Tim Berners-Lee, amongst others.) He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1998, Fellow of the IEEE in 2008, and Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. In 2010, Andrew was elected to the council of the Royal Society. In 2011, he and colleagues at Microsoft Research received the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award for their machine learning contribution to Microsoft Kinect human motion-capture. In 2012 Andrew was elected to the board of the EPSRC and also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Edinburgh.  In 2013 Andrew was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering from the University of Sheffield.

Abstract: Machines with some kind of ability to see have become a reality in the last decade, and we see vision capabilities in cameras and photography, cars, graphics software and in the user interfaces to appliances. Such machines bring benefits to safety, consumer experiences, and healthcare, and their operation is based on mathematical ideas.

The visible world is inherently ambiguous and uncertain so estimation of physical properties by machine vision often relies on probabilistic methods. Prior distributions over shape can help significantly to make estimators for finding and tracking objects more robust. Learned distributions for colour and texture are used to make the estimators more discriminative. These ideas fit into a philosophy of vision as inference: exploring hypotheses for the contents of a scene that explain an image as fully as possible. More recently this explanatory approach has partly given way to powerful, direct estimation methods, whose operating parameters are learned from large data sets. Perhaps the most capable vision systems will come ultimately from some kind of fusion of the two approaches.

Benson Farb to Speak on Braids, Homology and Polynomials: An Emerging Pattern in Algebra and Topology

picture of benson farbBenson Farb, University of Chicago, will deliver an AMS-MAA Invited Address on Friday January 17, 2014, 11:10 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center. The title of his talk will be Braids, Homology and Polynomials: An Emerging Pattern in Algebra and Topology.

Listen as Katharine Merow, MAA Staff Writer, speaks with Benson Farb about his talk.

Benson Farb is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. He works at the interface of geometry, topology, and group theory.  Farb obtained a PhD from Princeton under the direction of William Thurston.  He went to Chicago as a postdoc in 1994, and has been there ever since. Farb has had 30 PhD students.  His awards include a Sloan Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Career award.  Farb is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and is an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul in 2014.  Farb is married to Amie Wilkinson, also a Professor of Mathematics at Chicago. They have two children.

Abstract: Natural mathematical objects often occur in families parametrized by the natural numbers. Examples include the group of invertible n x n integer matrices (and its congruence subgroups), spaces of configurations of n distinct points on a manifold, and various spaces of polynomials in n variables. It was recently discovered that certain numerical invariants attached to these sequences, such as Betti numbers and dimensions, actually "stabilize" to a polynomial in n once n is big enough.

In this talk I will try to explain what is happening here, tell the story of how it was discovered, and expose a single mechanism responsible for the common behavior in these very different examples. Along the way we will see this stability phenomenon reflected in the combinatorial stability of counts of degree n polynomials over finite fields. This is joint work with (various linear combinations of ) Tom Church, Jordan Ellenberg and Rohit Nagpal.

Eitan Grinspun to Speak on Movie Magic: The Mathematics Behind Hollywood's Visual Effects

picture of Eitan GrinspunEitan Grinspun, Columbia University, will deliver the  MAA-AMS-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture on  Saturday, January 18, 2014, 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center. The title of his talk will be Movie Magic: The Mathematics Behind Hollywood's Visual Effects.

Eitan Grinspun is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Columbia Computer Graphics Group. He was Professeur d'Université Invité at l'Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris in 2009, a Research Scientist at the Courant Institute from 2003-2004, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology from 1997-2003, and an undergraduate in Engineering Science at the University of Toronto from 1993-1997.

He was named an NVIDIA Fellow in 2001, Everhart Distinguished Lecturer in 2003, NSF CAREER Awardee in 2007, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2010-2012, one of Popular Science magazine's Brilliant Ten Scientists in 2011, and one of Fast Company magazine's Most Creative People in Business in 2013. Technologies developed by his lab are used in products such as Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator, at major film studios, and in basic condensed matter and engineering research. He has been profiled in the New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, and mentioned in Variety. His recent film credits include The Hobbit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin.

Abstract: Blockbuster films have amazing visual effects. Virtual stunt doubles, animated characters, and imaginary creatures are built from mathematical models of hair, fur, skin, and clothing. Explosions, floods, and disasters that would be dangerous if not impossible to film in real life are instead simulated on computers using mathematical models of fracture, fire, granular media, and liquids. This is the world of applied mathematics with an artistic flair. In this talk aimed at the general audience I will expose various aspects of movie magic, and the exciting mathematical questions that arise.

Dusa McDuff to Give Three Lectures Related to Symplectic Topology Today

picture of Dusa McDuffDusa McDuff, Barnard College, Columbia University, will deliver the AMS Colloquium Lectures in Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center, on the following dates:

* Colloquium Lecture I on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Symplectic Topology Today: Recent Results and Open Questions

* Colloquium Lecture II on Thursday, January 16, 2014, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Symplectic Topology Today: Embedding Questions: Obstructions and Constructions

* Colloquium Lecture III on Friday, January 17, 2014, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Symplectic Topology Today: Embedding Ellipsoids and Fibonacci Numbers

See lecture notes here.

Listen as Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Officer, speaks with Dusa McDuff about her lectures.

McDuff began her career while she was a graduate student at Cambridge University (where she earned her PhD in 1971 under George Reid) when she solved a well-known problem about von Neumann algebras, constructing infinitely many different factors of type II-one. She traveled to Moscow in 1969-70 where she had the good fortune to study with Israel M. Gelfand. He shared her view of mathematics as a kind of poetry and was a great inspiration, encouraging her to study topology. McDuff returned to Cambridge for a two-year Science Research Council Fellowship, working with Frank Adams and later Graeme Segal. She was appointed Lecturer first at the University of York (1972-76) and then at the University of Warwick (1976-78), and spent 1974-75 at MIT.

McDuff was on the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1978—2008, attaining the rank of Distinguished Professor. She joined the faculty at Barnard College in 2007 and is the Helen Lyttle Kimmel '42 Professor of Mathematics there.

McDuff has worked in symplectic topology since the early 1980s. She has written over 90 papers, as well as co-authoring three books with Dietmar Salamon, most recently J-holomorphic curves and Symplectic Topology (AMS Colloquium Publication 52, (2004), 2nd ed (2012)). McDuff has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Studies, UC Berkeley, MIT, Harvard, and MSRI, in addition to serving on MSRI's Scientific Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees.

Dusa McDuff has been awarded numerous honors including the Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society in 1991 and honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh (where she was an undergraduate), the University of York and the University of Strasbourg. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1994, a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1999, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012, and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2013.

Abstract: This lecture will first introduce the basic notions of symplectic/contact geometry and explain some foundational results (such as the non-squeezing theorem). It will then describe some motivating questions (the flexibility/rigidity dichotomy, the Arnold and Weinstein conjectures, the existence/uniqueness problem), and some recent progress in answering them.

Jill Pipher to Speak on the Mathematics of Lattice-based Cryptography

picture of Jill PipherJill Pipher, Brown University, will deliver an MAA Invited Address on Friday, January 17, 2014, 9:00 a.m.-9:50 a.m., Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center. The title of her talk will be The Mathematics of Lattice-based Cryptography.

Listen as Katharine Merow, MAA Staff Writer, speaks with Jill Pipher about her talk.

Jill Pipher is Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics at Brown University, and Director of the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM). She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1985, spent five years at the University of Chicago and came to Brown as an Associate Professor.

Her research interests include harmonic analysis, partial differential equations and cryptography. She has published papers in each of these areas of mathematics, co-authored an undergraduate cryptography textbook, and jointly holds four patents for the NTRU encryption and digital signature algorithms. She was a cofounder of Ntru Cryptosystems, Inc, now part of Security Innovation, Inc.

Her awards include an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Fellowship, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship. She served as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics from 2011-2013, and was a National Women’s History Month 2013 Honoree.

Abstract: Lattice-based cryptography has become a major focus of research in the field of public key cryptography: various schemes offer efficiency, provable security, resistance to quantum computing based attacks, or most recently, fully homomorphic functionality. This chapter in cryptography research took off in 1996-97 with Ajtai's breakthrough paper "Generating Hard Instances of Lattice Problems" and a quick succession of three lattice-based public key encryption schemes: NTRU, GGH, and Ajtai-Dwork. Up to then, lattices had been primarily used in the cryptanalysis of a number of public key potential alternatives to RSA, known as knapsack schemes. This lecture introduces the mathematical ideas in this subject from 1996 to the present, ending with a discussion of fully homomorphic encryption. It will be accessible to a wide audience.

Carl Pomerance to Speak on Paul Erdős and the Rise of Statistical Thinking in Elementary Number Theory

picture of Carl PomeranceCarl Pomerance, Dartmouth College, will deliver an AMS-MAA Invited Address on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 11:10 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Ballrooms 1 & 2, 4th Floor, Baltimore Convention Center. The title of his talk will be Paul Erdős and the Rise of Statistical Thinking in Elementary Number Theory.

Listen as Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Officer, speaks with Carl Pomerance about his talk.

Carl Pomerance received his B.A. from Brown University in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1972 under the direction of John Tate.  During the period 1972--99 he was a professor at the University of Georgia, with visiting positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Limoges, Bell Communications Research, and the Institute for Advanced Study.  In the period 1999--2003 he was a Member of the Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories.  Currently he is the John G. Kemeny Parents Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College and Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia.

A number theorist, Pomerance specializes in analytic, combinatorial, and computational number theory, with applications in the field of cryptology. He considers the late Paul Erdős as his greatest influence.

Pomerance was an invited speaker at the 1994 International Congress of Mathematicians, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Polya Lecturer for 1993--95, and the MAA Hedrick Lecturer in 1999. More recently he was the Rademacher Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He has won the Chauvenet Prize (1985), the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching (1997), and the Conant Prize (2001). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of the American Mathematical Society. He is the president of the Number Theory Foundation, a past vice president of the MAA, and past chair of the Mathematics Section of the AAAS. He is the author of nearly 200 published papers and several books.

Abstract: In ancient times mathematicians were fascinated with "special" numbers of all kinds, from primes, to perfects, amicables, abundants, and so on. For centuries, only the barest of attempts were made to systematically study their distribution within the natural numbers. About 200 years ago, the distribution of prime numbers began in earnest, and by the close of the nineteenth century, we had the prime number theorem. In the twentieth century, led principally by Paul Erdős, we began to study elementary number theory from this statistical viewpoint. One can see a direct progression, for example, from the ancient concepts of abundant and deficient numbers to distribution functions, the celebrated Erdős Kac theorem, the field of probabilistic number theory. In this talk, which celebrates the centennial anniversary of the birth of Paul Erdős, we shall see some of the triumphs of the this way of thinking about elementary number theory, and we shall see that this statistical viewpoint is flourishing.